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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 22, 2009 1:30am-2:00am EDT

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but i've also learned from men that i admired. and one example was frazier robinson was a loving example of a loving, responsible fatherhood. here's a man who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. but he got up every day. went to a blue collar job. by the time i knew him, he was using two crutches to get around. but he always was able to get to every dance recital, every ball game of michelle's brother. he was there constantly and helped to shape extraordinary success for his children. and that's the standard that i strive for, though, i don't always meet it. as i've said before i've made mistakes as a parent. and i'm sure i will make plenty more. there have been days when the demands of work have taken me from my duties as a father and i've missed some moments in my daughter's lives that i'll
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never get back. so i've been far from perfect. but in the end it's not about being perfect. it's not always about succeeding but it's about always trying. and that's something everybody can do. it's about showing up and sticking with it. it's going and sticking with it and to let the kids know that they are your first priority. and we need dads and men that are not dads to, make this commitment not only in their own homes, but to many people that were not fortunate enough to have compassionate dads. we need mentors and big brothers and to just shoot hoops or talk with them. just even smallest moments can
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have a lasting impact on a child's life. i am grateful to a number of organizations working on these issues. some are faith-based and some not, and some government funded, but all of you have those same commitments to lift up the importance of fatherhood in the communities. this is not the end but the beginning, and we have regional townhall meetings to make sure that participants all across the country are having that positive effect. and i want to thank the young people here, you are the ones that will have to carry this. [applause] you dads, i know we have had some discussion, and i want to see if we can expand the conversation. we should have some microphones in the audience, so everyone
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can be heard. mike, are you going to be like oprah? >> i am not going to be like oprah. >> ok, i will call on folks, they can ask questions or share organizations that are doing great work on fatherhood. please tell us about the work you are doing. and i want to hear from the young people, who somehow ended up sitting in the back. i don't know how that happened. i will start here. >> i am riland, president of national fatherhood initiatives. and thank you for what you are doing on this issue, a lot of folks have been toiling on this issue, and to have you step forward and make this a national priority. and though you have had obviously success without your dad, but you needed them.
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and this is important, because we need to focus on that issue, we need to change the legacy and have our dads pass on a different legacy. so thank you for the work you are doing around this issue. >> thank you so much. i want to emphasize this point how just small moments and gestures can make a huge difference. you know a lot of folks know that i love playing basketball. but it was my father who gave me my first basketball. even though he wasn't a part of my life. in the first weeks i was with him, he gave me my basketball. and i love jazz, and he took me to my first jazz concert. and that imprint is powerful.
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and imagine if that sustained everyday. and especially young men when they hit the teenager years, to have someone there to provide them guidance. that makes all the difference in the world. and this is not to take away from the heroic work that the moms are doing. but the moms need help. if you a single mom like mine was, and going to school or working. the pressures are enormous and to have someone there to carry on the child-rearing responsibilities is critical. anyone else? let me get one of these young people. >> good afternoon, i am larry, i attend a school for boys. traveling from state to state and country to country, being a
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president. which is funner, being a father or president? >> oh, wow. i mean this, nothing is more fun than being a father. now my kids aren't teenagers yet so i don't know -- i don't know if that will maintain itself. but right now the greatest joy i get is just hanging out with the girls and talking to them and watching them grow and succeed. and probably the most fun i have had since i have been president was at a parent-teacher conference where the teachers were braging on my children. and i just sat there and basked in the glory. and nothing is more important than that, i think that a lot of fathers can relate to that. but here's the important point,
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with as many responsibility as i v -- i have, it turns out you can still carve out time to make sure you are having a conversation with your kid. and what it does mean that fathers sometimes have to give up stuff that they like to do instead. like sit there and watch sportscenter. and i know we have d-wade, and i know, instead of watching for the first time sports center, i just watch it once. so i can spend time with the girls because they don't like watching basketball that much. but being president is pretty fun too, no doubt about it. next question. here. >> hi, mr. president, i am
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chris, i founded an organization in indianapolis and i hope that these dialogues continue to let everyone know this is not a rich or poor, or north or south or black-and-white, this affects everyone from upper class to the lower class, and that's who we work with. and over the years, i have heard stories and so appreciative, we have a service in indianapolis of all fathers, and i hope we can keep that on a national level. >> absolutely, i think this is important to emphasize. 23% of young people are growing up without fathers. now in the african-american community, it's 50% or maybe a
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little lower. so there is a real crisis going on in the african-american community on this issue. but it's a more pervasive issue. i went to an organization called year-up, that has young people getting trained after high school, most of them. on specific job-training skills and computer skills and how to conduct themselves in an office and write an e-mail, etc. and i said specifically to the young men, you can't use anything as an excuse not to be involved with your children. you know, cause kids they won't judge you based on whether you are wealthy or poor. they will judge you if you are abusive to their mother. they will judge you in terms of
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you not showing up when they need you. that's what makes a difference. and kids will respect their fathers if their fathers are showing kindness and are modeling that they are working hard and trying to do what is right for their families. kids will understand that sometimes families fall on hard times. they get that, joe biden is here and joe i want to talk to you. you had a terrific relationship but he fell on hard times and you talk about him as the most important guiding role. >> mr. president, i think this is great what you are doing, this is a big deal. the president said that fathers make mistakes and i made my share.
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my father said there is a mistake that a father shouldn't make, to communicate to their child that there is total unconditional love. and it doesn't matter if you are rich or poor or smart or handsome or not. it doesn't matter. kids need love. and as a single parent, mr. president, i did that having two sons as evan knows. and my mom has an expression, and she said, i can hear her when i was a kid, saying it to her peers. she said, be careful how you treat your children, you may need them some day. and i want to tell you, the president knows my sons and daughter, it doesn't change, the happiest thing in the world is being a father. this day my 40-year-old son is
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attorney in state of delaware and my 29-year-old son and my daughter. and if captain biden walked in the door today, the first thing he would do is give me a kiss. i mean it. and the point is that it gives me more joy. and it gives every father in this room more joy than any other thing that happens in your life. mr. president, you are a great president and dad, and you are really good to be doing this. it's a big deal. >> all right, thank you. [applause] anybody back here want to comment on some of the things they heard or saw. go ahead. >> i would like to ask you a question. at one point you had decided you want to run for president, with two young daughters. can you share how you had to
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wrestle that decision. >> it's a great question, and i think i have said this before, the threshold question i had to ask in conjunction with michelle. because this was a joint decision, was could our family handle it. and frankly if it hadn't been for michelle's extraordinary strength and commitment, i would not have done it or could not have done it. and she was able to handle for big chunks of time being like a single mom. i want to emphasize, we're luckier than most, we have more resources than most. i don't want to diminish, how tough it is if you are working two shifts and coming home beat. and then suddenly you are also expected to help on the homework and all of these
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things. it's a big challenge for a lot of families. and we had more resources than most. i don't think we would have made the same decision if our kids were older. part of the really it was ok, when i started running, sacha was five and malia was eight. and they were in chicago with my mother-in-law and had a community and network that would help. and we felt they would thrive. the person that suffered the most was me. i would be calling from god knows where and they and kids don't talk on the phone that well. so i would be, sasha, how with us your day? fine.
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what did you do? nothing. you guys remember those conversations. and so there were times where just physically i wanted to just be with them and just couldn't. and so it was the hardest part of deciding to run for president. the best thing about being president, by the way is having a home office because that means that, you know, that means that i get home for dinner. even if i have to go back to work. and that makes all the difference in the world. ok. got one right behind you. no. no. the guy right behind you. no, i wouldn't do that. >> listen i wanted to thank you very much. i started a mission with al dodson dobson
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and what i wanted to tell, the service of the image of you and your family and daughters, has made it ten-fold easier to involve the men. the media is powerful and i want to thank you and encourage everyone to do so in your neighborhoods. as we look to this man and others in the media, it's those of you there on an everyday basis. and when you see parents with children, it goes a long way. >> i appreciate that , and you made the right point, it's one thing seeing people on tv. and it's another thing seeing that young father down the street who is just like you, except he's holding his baby in his arms. or taking that toddler to the park or participating in the a
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little liege. -- little league. that's where young people get their images of what it means to be a man. more than they do from what is on the screen. but i very much appreciate what you said. i am going to call on a token mom here. just so she can comment on these things. >> good to see you. i want to say for women, i am a mother and grandmother, this is a day of celebration for us. we just felt our shoulders lifted. not having a father, but thank you bill and mr. mcdaniel for coming over baloo. the only time you hear about this high school is when someone is shot and killed. and today the kids asked, they are coming to see us?
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i want to thank you on their behalf, you cared enough about children on the other side of the river. my question, how do we keep lifting up the stories of the kid not in trouble. who goes past the drug dealers, who decides to stay in school. we spend so much emphasis on what is not working. how do we talk about what is working? >> i think you make a great point. i want to thank these wonderful men that took the time. and coach, it's the first time you have seen red skin fans cheer for you, that doesn't happen that often. but these men for taking the time to do this. give them a round of applause. [applause] but you are right, reverend, sometimes we have to lift up success than just remark on failure.
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because the young men i met at the trip i took to europe, these were extraordinary young people. they were poised and polished. and these are all kids from the neighborhood. but they had, somebody had reached out to show that they care. and it turns out that young people are incredibly resilient. it doesn't take that much, just someone to put a hand on them. saying, you are important and i am listening to them. it's the wrong person, the gangbanger, they will respond to that. or the person in the community, they will respond to that. we need to affirm positive behavior and not just condemn
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bad behavior. a lot of times young people need to be told, that if you -- one the neat things about this program i was looking at. they had a whole code, the first thing they train young people is on how do you interact with others. they were shaking your hand and not mumbling, and there were certain words they have banned from usage. not just curse words, they were saying, don't go around and say shorty and what's up "g." because that's not professional. and all that was important to them and they absorbed it quickly. but it requires spending a little time and lifting up some role models. ok. all right. this is always tough, the last question thing.
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i will call on one of these young people again. here, this man here. >> i was wondering. >> what is your name? >> i am nick from st. aldbins, mr. president, how did you feel when you first became a father? >> first of all, malia was born on the fourth of july. and every first father has this memory, you are waiting and waiting, and suddenly michelle woke me up around 3-4 o'clock, and i was sleepy, she said, hey buster, i think this baby is happening. it was like a movie, i was jumping out the bed and looking for my shoes, the bag. and things went fairly smoothly. but you know the first time you
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see that child and bringing her home, driving really slow. in that little car seat. and then that night knowing that there was this new life inside your house in a little basinet. and remembering to check on them every five minutes to make sure they are breathing. and then feeling them lying on your chest when you fed them of the and they are falling asleep. and you knew at that moment something, if you are not a father yet, people say and you don't believe. which is at that moment, you realize you will do anything for that child. there is nothing you wouldn't do for them. in a heartbeat, and that bond between a parent and a child is
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something that, you know, is precious, it's sacred. and it's a true blessing. sometimes i think in the hustle of life you forget what a blessing that is. and ultimately after all this stuff is done, after joe and i are retired and nobody knows our name. the one thing that we will remember are those moments. right, when you were holding your kid and watching them grow. and the first time they walked. that's the stuff that will stay with you. and that's why if there is one last thing i want to communicate to those fathers who maybe haven't been involved if their child's life. it's to emphasize that this isn't an obligation. this is a privilege.
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to be a father. and that's something that all of us should take on for themselves. [applause] thank you everyone for participating. thank you. [applause] ññ >> following the town hall meeting on friday, president obama and his guests went to the south lawn for a barbecue cooked by chef bobby flay. the president made some remarks. [applause]
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>> hello, everybody. have a seat. first of all, let's give thanks that it's not raining. we were worried that bobby would be sending smoke inside the white house. but it's a beautiful day. i want to acknowledge once again, they've already been introduced but i want to introduce them, because of you people may not know who you're sitting with, the extraordinary men who are participate manage this event today. first of all chief quarter master lennon. some of you may know this guy dewayne wade. i hear he plays basketball very well. eton thomas, basketball player. greg brown whose the c.e.o., antwan randall el outstanding football player. dr. steve rosin, bfrlt b. wang
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outstanding actor -- b.b. wang outstanding ack, to tony hawk who's the best skateboarder in the world. coach bill cower of the championship steelers. darrell d.m.c. mcdon yells. mike glass whose a small businessman. senator evan bayh, fatherhood's dad's inc. dr. robert franklin as well as mike straunmanneis and we also want to thank bobby flay with these unbelievably good-looking grub over here. i don't want to talk long. i want to say hello to
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everybody. i just want to thank everybody for participating for the young people. i just hope that the message we're accepteding out about how important fathers are is something that you will internalize because all of you are probably going end up being fathers. and the time is now to start thinking about what that means in terms of responsibilities, what it means to be a man. and the men who are -- you're going be sitting with today, i think exemplify whether their famous or not famous, rich or not so rich, they imbody that spirit of love and dedication and commitment that fatherhood's all about. so we appreciate all of you. i don't want to get in the way of the food. thank you for participating. hope you zpwrice a good time. and to all the father's out there, happy father's day. all right?
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[applause]
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>> [inaudible conversations] >> coming up next a reporters' roundtable on the political news of the week. and then we'll show you a hearing on healt
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